Walt Disney Imagineering

Walt Disney Imagineering

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is the creative force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from its diverse global team of creative and technical professionals, who build on Disney’s legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment.

Founded in 1952 as WED Enterprises to design and build the world’s first theme park — Disneyland — WDI is where imagination and creativity combine with cutting-edge technology to create unforgettable experiences. The Imagineers who practice this unique blend of art and science work in more than 100 disciplines to shepherd an idea all the way from “blue sky” concept phase to opening day.


For more than 60 years, the storytellers and magic makers at WDI have dreamed up, designed and created countless themed entertainment experiences at Disney destinations across the globe. Working across a spectrum of disciplines that range from creative and conceptual to scientific and mechanical, Imagineering thrives on collaboration. Imagineers blend an innovative mixture of storytelling, art, science and technology to create innovative experiences and memorable destinations for families around the world.

Community Involvement

Volunteerism has been integral to WDI throughout its history. From mentoring students involved in FIRST Robotics and developing a creativity lab for kids at Inner City Arts to designing children’s centers for United Service Organizations and lobbies for children’s hospitals, Imagineers volunteer thousands of hours a year for a wide range of charitable causes that support children, families, education and the environment.
More than 25 years ago, Imagineering created and has continued to sponsor Imaginations, a design competition that challenges college students to conceive a new theme park, land, restaurant, merchandise location, product or other Disney-style themed entertainment experience. This unique contest seeks out and nurtures the next generation of diverse Imagineers. Many finalists become interns and fulfill their dream of working for WDI.

The Environment

WDI incorporates environmentally friendly elements into the design and construction of its projects, with stringent goals that determine how much building material should be recycled or reused. Energy- efficient LED lighting is used in many attractions, hotels and entertainment productions, and sustainable energy such as solar power is incorporated into the design of many facilities. The water featured in many attractions is often stored, treated and reused during refurbishments.
Shanghai Disney Resort uses advanced technologies to operate in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. One example is the resort’s Combined Cooling and Heating Plant (CCHP), a grid-tied, gas-fired power plant that uses excess engine heat for cooling and heating and produces compressed air by self-generated electricity. The CCHP triples the resort’s overall energy efficiency. In addition, a peripheral canal built during construction captures and stores rain and water runoff from the park to use for irrigation, and an onsite water treatment plant was designed to be environmentally friendly while meeting Disney quality standards.
WDI Research & Development has a long history of innovation in environmental science and engineering. Because water features are an important part of the Disney experience, WDI R&D has developed innovative treatment technologies to maintain water quality. The creation of a sustainable built environment also benefits from the same level of research. To improve the energy efficiency of buildings, WDI R&D developed mathematical models that link building physics with behavior of building occupants. These models can be used to provide strategic investment guidance as Imagineers work to improve energy performance.

Recent Developments

Imagineering created three new nighttime spectaculars to mark the 60th anniversary of Disney’s original theme park: Paint the Night Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks and World of Color – Celebrate!
The newest Disney resort features the largest Disney castle ever created, the first-ever land themed entirely to pirates, two themed hotels, and a retail, dining and entertainment district, along with additional recreational facilities, all tailored to be authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese. Imagineers used innovative design and technology practices to redefine themed entertainment and bring this resort to life.
As part of a major transformation, Imagineers designed four neighborhoods for guests to discover – The Landing, Town Center, Marketplace and West Side – each with their own authentic feel. This retail, dining and entertainment area at Walt Disney World Resort includes an eclectic mix of unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries and jaw-dropping entertainment unlike any other destination in Central Florida.
Opened in 2016 at Hong Kong Disneyland, Imagineering worked to create Disney’s first Marvel-themed attraction – Iron Man Experience. This original story takes place in Hong Kong and includes a motion-simulator attraction with state-of-the-art 3D visuals. The new area also includes a themed merchandise location and character greeting experience.
As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will immerse guests into the world of Pandora starting in 2017. Imagineers create dawe-inspiring floating mountains, a mysterious jungle of bioluminescent plants and several new experiences, including a thrilling new attraction called AVATAR Flight of Passage that will allow guests to experience what it’s like to fly on the back of a banshee. Disney’s Animal Kingdom transforms after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, such as Rivers of Light, offering guests more time to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is scheduled to open a new 750-room hotel in 2017, marking another exciting milestone in the continued development of the resort as aworld-class travel and entertainment destination. Imagineers designed a new world full of discovery, nature and exotic cultures with four distinct gardens, three restaurants, a shop and a large outdoor swimming pool for guests to enjoy.
In the first-ever ride-through attraction based on the popular Disney•Pixar film “Ratatouille,” guests at Disneyland Paris are “shrunk” to the size of a rat as they scurry along on their own rat-shaped, trackless vehicle into the story of Remy and his friends. A sit-down restaurant and merchandise location complete the area. Imagineering is also refreshing multiple attractions and shows in preparation for the resort’s 25th anniversary in 2017.
Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Imagineering is creating Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each. Each land will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet with two signature attractions, including a customized secret mission on the Millennium Falcon and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.
In addition to the announcement of two new cruise ships joining the fleet in 2021 and 2023, Imagineering recently completed a major design and creative enhancement of the Disney Wonder. Headlining the new entertainment and experiences are an exclusive theatrical production called “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”; engaging, interactive spaces for children inside Disney’s Oceaneer Club such as Marvel Super Hero Academy, Frozen Adventures, Club Disney Junior and Andy’s Room; Tiana’s Place, a jazzy restaurant with Southern-style cuisine; and Crown & Fin Pub and Azure in the After Hours adult area.
Featuring Disney Vacation Club villas alongside hotel rooms, this standalone family vacation destination lies on 21 acres of beachfront property on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Imagineers recently completed an expansion of the property that extends the rich Hawaiian culture found throughout the resort based on tremendously positive response from guests.
Imagineers are starting work on an expansion of Fantasyland that will transport guests to the world of Beauty and the Beast, where they will be able to explore the village where Belle lives and the Beast’s daunting castle, starting in 2020. Guests will be able to meet Minnie at an all-new character greeting facility at Toontown, and the popular attraction Soarin’ will make its debut at Tokyo DisneySea in 2019.

Home of The Walt Disney Company Research Team

Disney Research

WDI is home to The Walt Disney Company’s research team, Disney Research, which looks for ways to use technology at Disney’s parks and resorts and across the company. Together, the best minds from 40 countries work in areas as varied as robotics, language-based interfaces, video processing and novel forms of sensing. Disney Research partners with ETH Zürich in Switzerland and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with labs co-located with those universities. Disney Research also has a facility in Los Angeles and works closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area.When Imagineers cannot find the technology they need, they invent it. Imagineering holds more than 100 patents in special effects, ride systems, interactive technology, live entertainment, fiber optics and advanced audio systems.

Imagineers have incorporated innovative techniques for construction and project management including building a Digital Immersive Show Room (DISH) to pre-visualize attractions and themed areas prior to implementation, as well as using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to create intelligent 3D models for planning, design, and construction.


Disney's Disability Services

Imagineers consider the special needs of guests when designing and building attractions and other facilities. Many attractions have vehicles that accommodate guests who use wheelchairs, and special viewing experiences are created for certain attractions to allow physically challenged guests to enjoy them. A statue of Abraham Lincoln in the lobby of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln allows visually impaired guests to imagine what the 16th president looked like by touching his face. And closed captioning with onscreen text is used in attractions such as Toy Story Mania!